Festival Frontlines: Sasquatch! Music Festival’s Social & Digital Media Strategy

Sasquatch lineup

Sasquatch! Music Festival, which sold out in a record 90 minutes after going on sale, runs May 24-27 (Memorial Day Weekend) at The Gorge, the internationally acclaimed concert venue carved in the basalt cliffs high above the Columbia River Gorge in Quincy, WA. Sasquatch! has recently been recognized for its programming excellence with a nomination for Festival of the Year at the 2012 Pollstar Awards and was named Festival of the Year in 2010 by Consequence of Sound.  

Adam Zacks – Founder & Curator

kickshufflelogo_300finalWhat are your plans to leverage social and digital media leading up to the festival?

In terms of promotion, we’re already sold out, so it’s more about engaging with fans and using social media as a channel for providing practical information, like when wristbands are being mailed out, reducing anxiety around when people can expect certain things to happen, those kinds of things. It’s also been a great avenue for pushing artist discovery for some of the newer artists at the festival. So in a perfect world, if we did a good job with the music discovery, there will be a good crowd on the first day for that very first band.

kickshufflelogo_300finalOne way you guys push music discovery is through the ‘Band of the Day’ feature. Do you also curate your own Spotify, or other streaming-service, playlists?

The approach so far is to allow that to happen completely organically without our stamp on it at all, because that lends it more credibility. And this notion guides a lot of what we do. If we treat it as marketing, it becomes completely ineffective. So we try to resist the temptation to meddle if it’s happening organically.

There are ProBoards sites that are pretty active, and they serve a lot of good purposes. Like one in particular is sasquatchfest.proboards.com, but I’ve learned that the people on those boards can be really nasty to newcomers. So we can either create our own official forum, or endorse what they are doing. But the thinking is to try and let as much of that happen organically as we can.

kickshufflelogo_300finalTwo things that you have going on, in terms of fan interaction, are the Motion Sickness GIFs and Sasquatch Yearbook pictures. Can you talk a little bit about each?

Sure, and let me just make one comment. We’re not very heavy-handed with the marketing, and that’s sort of the culture of the event. So leveraging digital assets and all that is not part of our speak, and that’s intentional. It’s just a different approach. And I’m not saying it’s a better approach, maybe it’s a foolish approach, but it’s not the reason why something like Motion Sickness exists. We’re not wringing our hands and saying, ‘Everyone’s going to love these and they’re going to post these on their Facebook page, and we’re going to see this exponential ripple that’s going to give us great exposure.’ That’s not what makes Sasquatch! appealing. It’s just simply for fun, and to enhance the quirky, fun-loving image that we associate with the festival.

So the Motion Sickness thing is just something our web designer came up with. We thought we would put a few examples up and invite people to submit their own. There’s only been a handful submitted, none of which we felt were either appropriate or quality enough to include, and most were just confusing. Like even the ones that are up now, a couple of them take some staring at to figure out the riddle. But I like the fact that we tried, and who knows, maybe there are more to come.

The Yearbook is a sponsor-driven thing that Redbull provides. And I will say that all the sponsors were really good at making sure everything had the look and feel of Sasquatch! So the Yearbook is a fun, cool thing if you want to get into it, and it’s no bother at all if you don’t care or don’t have time for it. So if you’re on-site and you take this picture with the backdrop, and you want to take the time to find yourself in the Yearbook, it’s there. I’m not too concerned with the marketing capabilities of it, but I suppose it gives people a reason to come back to the site.

kickshufflelogo_300finalDo you have any plans to live stream the festival – or any part of the festival?

Well, the answer right now is no. There have been people who have paid for the rights to do it, and then not done it, because it’s a fairly complex and expensive venture to do it properly. And the remote location of The Gorge doesn’t help. Not to say that it couldn’t be done, but so far it hasn’t been done.

I have mixed feelings about live streaming the whole thing. I think there’s something great about leaving a little bit of mystery to what the event is, like you have to be there to experience it. On the other hand, for all the people who got shut out and couldn’t get tickets, it would be kind of nice that they could at least drop in and see what’s going on.

kickshufflelogo_300finalWhat are your plans for social and digital media after the festival?

What’s nice is that a lot of the social takes care of itself, with people posting to their own pages. And we try to consolidate a lot of it via the links on the site. We have a gallery section on the site, in which we’ll post high quality artistic photos from the festival. So there are reasons to keep coming back to the site. But again, the concept of being in the dark is part of the strategy; it’s not Sasquatch! 24/7 365 days a year. That’s kind of the point, it’s not an every day thing.


Kickshuffle is an online publication dedicated to covering the impact of technology on music and music business. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.



8 responses to “Festival Frontlines: Sasquatch! Music Festival’s Social & Digital Media Strategy

  1. Yes to live streaming! The fest sold out so fast this year so there are lots of people who would take advantage of this!

  2. We didn’t see the “yearbook” thing last year but will definitely look for it this year! What a great idea! Burning Man has something similar but not with Red Bull of course.

  3. Seriously! That message board is for teenagers that don’t know how to interact with anyone but their little group! I hate that it is “THE” Sasquatch board and it is not at all representative of the real Sasquatch and how open everyone is when you get there! Sasquatch is amazing but that message board is not.

  4. I logged onto that site and after 3 posts I would never go back there because of the responses from him! It is a terrible message board with such a small number of regulars so how could it be helpful to anyone that really wanted information? It would be great to have a message board for Sasquatch where people could actually connect and not be attacked for a reasonable post.

  5. Please do not endorse that nasty proboards site! The regulars there are really not helpful and that HG guy is just an asshole! Start a new message board for Sasquatch where people can get the info they are looking for PLEASE!

    • Yes please start a Sasquatch sanctioned message board! It would have lots of use especially from December until the fest every year. It is sad to search for a Sasquatch message board and be directed to that site that is nearly always very negative to new people. If you want questions answered that is not the place to go! I know no message board is always a friendly place to be but that one is ridiculous!

    • A Sasquatch sanctioned message board would be perfect! Please, please do it! I go to a few music festivals every year and Sasquatch is the only one that I don’t use the message board to meet people before the fest or to ask questions or anything else. I logged on there once and asked a question. What a mistake that was! It seems that not very many people post regularly and some of the people that post there are OK but there is a moderator there that just wants to flame everyone. No bueno.

    • No message board is always friendly but that Sasquatch message board is about as unfriendly as you can get. I think most people expect a music festival of this size, especially one that has gone on for 11 years now, to have its own message board.

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